Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I'm really tired of all the cleavage pictures lately, so I'm just gonna use one of my favorite Mike Rowe shots so there's at least a semblance of some balance around here. Mike Rowe ... *sigh*
First, if you haven't read It's Raining Men! Part One, read it now. Guest blogger and our official Home Shopping Knight, Sir High, gave us his take on home shopping from a man's perspective.
After finding out how much Hugh enjoyed watching home shopping but how little he actually bought, I wanted to know what would make him buy. Was there anything that the home shopping powers that be could do to get Hugh to open up his wallet?
Here's what he had to say:
I think a lot of it has to do with content and not price, or gimmicks.
Several years ago the old Shop-at-Home network used to have sports collectibles on after midnight. Some of it was interesting, most of it was overpriced, and over exposed since you saw almost the same thing every night. Then they fell into the tired old Coin Shop stuff to replace sports collectibles when that burned out.
The problem is they tried to lure male viewers with the same items every night. The steroid scandal in baseball might have been a nail in the coffin of SAH--all of those Barry Bonds, Mark Magwire and Sammy Sosa items became worthless overnight, .....it was probably a last attempt to save a network that was in the tank.
Saying that...I think if the networks wanted more viewership and male customers, go with more sports, outdoor, and entertainment related shows. QVC once did a weekend with Bon Jovi ( which drew several demographics).
Bottom line...I think the networks need to make a change before they find the universe has changed around them, but so far no one is willing to really deviate from the old tried and true format.
I forwarded Hugh's thoughts to former QVC, Q2, and Shop-At-Home host, Ron Maestri, for his reaction.
I do understand what he is saying and can certainly relate, especially with everything he says about Shop-at-Home. When Steve Bryant was hired as their VP of on-air, he desperately tried to get them to understand everything your guest blogger wrote in his post, especially the buyers, who were hellbent on doing things their own way, irregardless of what was right.
I hosted a few watch shows where the items were definitely male oriented, but very stereotyped. There was no real style. I thought it was the manufacturer, until I actually visited them when I was in New York and saw their vast selection. Even the manufacturer (Croton) couldn't understand why our buyers kept buying the same things over and over, taking no risk on anything, all because of their excuse, "our audience won't like that." A ridiculous assertion that cost us plenty, as we all know now in hindsight.
The same was true in practically every other product category. Stubborn narrow thinking buyers who just didn't get it. They were buying for their own tastes and not the audience, which clearly craved variety (and it showed in sluggish sales after seeing the same things presented over and over, night after night).
When I was a TV program director for several different stations, staff and consultant, I'd have to remind management that we weren't buying programming to suit their own tastes but the audience we were programming to. I don't happen to like wrestling, but it sure didn't stop me from buying wrestling shows and scoring big numbers with them.
Attracting a male audience is not a challenge exclusive to TV shopping. Men are the most difficult to attract and keep because they are so elusive. You should also know in most cases, it is the women they happen to be sitting next to who are placing the order or writing the show information in the Nielsen diary, so those rating or sales statistics provided by the respective networks are a bit skewed. Still, men remain a challenge always, in any genre.
It also has a lot to do with the sell. Women are more emotional buyers while men react to things like the speed to which they got someone on the phone to place the order or how good the service is if there is a problem or question afterwards. I found this when I'd ask live phone callers (men) what they liked about shopping with us (QVC, Q2 and Shop-at-Home). Their responses were so much different, 180 degrees from the women I'd speak to. That meant the host needed to understand his/her on-air presentation needed to be more complete.
These were both very well thought out and in-depth responses. I appreciate both Hugh and Ron for taking the time to write down their thoughts.
Be sure to check out Hugh's blog, UselessTriviaAndMindlessRants.blogspot.com.
You can find Ron at RonMaestri.com. He also recently made a guest appearance on Fox TV's Good Day New York morning show preparing his Italian grandmother's original recipe of TORTA, literally translated is potato pie (but based on the ingredients, it's really heart attack on a platter--Yum-O!) It's definitely worth checking out!